The Problems

All Co-operatives are governed by the Co-operative Principles, a set of interrelated statements about what it means to be a co-operative. Each Co-operative approaches the implementation of these principles in its own way, however some, such as Principle 6 “Co-operation among Co-operatives”, requires a degree of standardisation between Co-operatives, particularly those that are inherently online, such as Platform Co-operatives. To make Principle 6 a reality, and to grow the co-operative sector as a whole, the connections between Co-operatives need to be both efficient and focused on mutual value-creation.

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Know Your Co-operator

“Know Your Co-operator” is the co-operative equivalent of Know Your Customer, and is even more important than it is in a corporate environment. Co-operatives are run by their members through organisational structures that often involve multiple “classes” of membership and detailed democratic processes. “Knowing Your Co-operator” has relevance across a co-operative’s governance, compliance, community building and marketing. The demand on resources imposed by KYC compounds when considering inter-co-op co-operation.

De-centralised Identity Management

Co-operatives often organise ‘from the grass roots’: de-centralised and typically focused on empowering labour over capital. Significant parts of the internet and its associated technology are dominated by a handful of large centralised capital-driven corporations. Most co-operatives try to use de-centralised technology solutions, however this is particularly difficult to do when it comes to complex identity management technologies. Online identity management is currently dominated by centralised services provided by corporations such as Meta and Google and other powerful identity-provider platforms.

Cross-Selling Between Co-operatives

Co-operatives compete alongside corporations in the markets where they sell their products and services. Co-operatives often use their organisational structure as a unique value proposition within their markets. Consumers of our products and services, who are sometimes also our members, are attracted by their alignment with our missions. This ethical appeal has significant potential across the co-operative sector as a whole. Someone who is interested in ethical music streaming (Resonate) is often also interested in ethical accomodation ( and ethical software (Pavilion). While cross-selling on an ethical basis exists in various forms, it is under-utilised by co-operatives.

A ‘Data Commons’

A data cooperative is an organisation or ecosystem that collects data from its members and activities, processes and monetises the pooled data, and compensates the members for their individual contributions. These cooperatives establish an ecosystem of trust which brings the benefit of collective control over the quality as well as the quantity of data, coupled with better bargaining power through aggregation and better potential monetary compensation. Data co-operatives are reliant on secure identity and storage infrastructure.

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